And if not, why not?
In yesterday’s Boston Globe, James Parker reviews a new book on karaoke by Zhou Xun and Francesca Tarocco, forthcoming from University of Chicago Press. Now, I’ve never met the authors, nor this Mr. Parker, but it seems they not only understand but share my belief in the uniquely sublime power of karaoke in this, our age of postmodern cynicism:
As the book suggests, something of the mystery of karaoke is contained in its etymology: The word is a compound abbreviation of two Japanese words meaning “empty” and “orchestra.” Karaoke is above all a space, an absence haunted by the missing vocal line. The instrumental accompaniment, generally a synthetic redaction of the original track, is ghost-music, tinkling with its own deadness — and that unsung melody is spectrally beckoning, beckoning. The heart of the karaoke performer swells: Into this vacancy he must project his beautiful essence, his soul. He — or she (karaoke knows no gender) — may be emboldened or confused by alcohol; wild with a private grief; or, worst of all, suffering from a genuine desire to excel before his peers. Regardless, in the performance that ensues, something will be brought to light.
I don’t know if you’re taking the piss, James Parker, but frankly, I don’t give a damn. You have captured the haunted, tortured beauty that is The Karaoke. And Zhou Xun and Francesca Parker, wherever you are, I salute you, and look forward to the day we celebrate traded renditions of Pat Benetar and John Cougar Mellencamp with round after round of emboldening, confusing spirits.
P.S. Did I mention it’s a snow day? Can today possibly get any better??